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With the depth we have in a few positions, are Rick Spielman and his staff on the phone with the other teams in the League trying to shore up our roster? Or are we just going to let these guys go when we have to make final cuts at the end of preseason? Or will he do this after a couple of weeks of looking at these guys in pads? -- Michael Harrington
Drawing the delicate balance between developing depth in as many areas as possible but then using that depth to benefit the team by either keeping it on roster or trading it away to help improve depth in another area or to gain future draft pick capital is a vital part of the roster-building process. I can assure you Spielman and head coach Mike Zimmer and their staffs have this task in mind. They probably have conversations about this every day. At this point, it’s too early in the process of building the roster for 2017 to determine whether the depth in some places, such as the defensive line, should be traded away. The last thing you want to happen is to trade away depth at a position before training camp and the preseason are over only to watch a couple starters or key backups go down before the season starts and then you don’t have any contingencies in place.
How is the cornerback competition working out on the opposite side of all-star Xavier Rhodes? Can we expect to see Trae Waynes slowly take the spot from veteran Terence Newman? Also, how is Mackensie Alexander looking at slot after the departure of Captain Munnerlyn? -- Nick Brendemuhl
This is shaping up to be one of the competitions to watch in Mankato at training camp and during the preseason. Coach Zimmer has said Alexander has a shot to win the nickel cornerback job and it’ll be up to him what he does with that chance. If we isn’t able to earn the starting role, Newman is an excellent contingency. As for Waynes, he’s already done what Nick suggested – earn playing time on the outside opposite of Rhodes. Having three cornerbacks – Newman, Rhodes and Waynes – who are able to perform as starters on the outside is a big plus for Zimmer and the defensive coaching staff. The common denominator in both of these situations – competition and nickel cornerback and the rotation at outside cornerback – is Newman. He is a valuable part of this defense and I have a feeling his contributions this season will be needed.
How do you feel about the possibility that the Dalvin Cook/Latavius Murray duo will end up being better than the Adrian Peterson/Chester Taylor duo? I know Jerick McKinnon is still there, but I think he’s going to have a slightly different role this year.
-- Kyle Alexander Texas
The Vikings current group of running backs are different and will be asked to do different things than what was asked of Peterson and Taylor. There was essentially no duplicity in terms of what was asked of Peterson and Taylor. Peterson was the workhorse and Taylor was the change of pace runner who was better on passing downs. With Cook, McKinnon and Murray, the Vikings have three backs who can play three downs and who will have some duplicity in responsibility. Those two different realities render the comparison fruitless. I like what this current group brings to the offense because it won’t result in predictability based on which back is on the field, and I like this group because the offense won’t miss a beat on passing downs regardless of which back is in the game. * *
Bill Brown, Leroy Hoard, Moe Williams, Matt Asiata – battering rams. Seems we've always had a battering ram working behind our featured back. Until this this year. Looks like flash and finesse all the way today. I don't discount power in the current group, but battering ram power? Who fills that bill? -- Steven Terry
You may be discounting the power within this running back group, Terry, especially as it relates to Dalvin Cook. Murray had 12 rushing touchdowns last season, and 11 of them came from within the 10-yardline. Cook was a complete back at Florida State, capable of scoring via the big play from distance as well as in goal line situations. Granted, the Vikings don’t have a back with the same physical dimensions of the players referenced above, but they do have ball carriers who are physical runners and will be effective in short yardage and goal line situations.
All great QBs have a very tight relationship with their head coaches. It’s like they share a brain and know what the other one is thinking. It’s awesome to see Coach Zimmer reach out and take Sam Bradford in under his wing and make a point to go out of his busy days to work with him in explaining defenses, how to read them, what they`re trying to shut down, etc. This extra effort taken is what makes a cream of the crop QB. Great job, Coach Zim. What are your thoughts, Mike? -- Brent Bingham
I believe Brent’s comment is partially in response to an excellent piece by our own Craig Peters about the back-and-forth between coach Zimmer and Bradford during Zimmer’s absence from Organized Team Activities. If you haven’t already read it, it’s worth a couple minutes to read it. Brent is right that many great quarterbacks have benefited from a close relationship with their head coach. In the case of coach Zimmer and Bradford, you have an experienced and accomplished head coach with a defensive background and then a productive and very professional quarterback in Bradford. They can help each other out with several things – it doesn’t have to be just a one-way street with coach Zimmer tutoring Bradford. I don’t mean to insinuate that Bradford is in a position to “teach” Zimmer anything, I’m only saying that Zimmer can go to Bradford to get a trusted offensive player’s perspective on any given issue.